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Is the black liquid inclined towards certain kind of life forms and deadly to others?

In the first scene of the movie, the Engineer is shown drinking the black goop and disintegrates totally.
Later on, on the moon, inside the artificial construct, our team is shown stamping (unknowingly) on a couple of worms (which didn't die then).
Shortly after that, they are shown slipping into the oozing black goop. If those worms drank it, they should have disintegrated too. But later that night, they turned into lethal serpents.

The question is, why did it help the worms?

marked as duplicate by user1027 Jun 19 '12 at 0:40

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    You're making the unwarranted assumption that it's the same black goop. It could be some other kind of black goop that does something else - it wasn't in the same kind of container, after all. – Tacroy Jun 18 '12 at 21:47
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Yes, the black goop appears to have properties specific to the Engineers and other races, or at least different races react to it differently.

As you mention,

the black goop triggers a transformation in the Engineer such that he disintegrates and spreads his DNA widely, providing the basis for life.

However it's definitely plausible that a substance can affect different species in different ways as we have many many examples on Earth - pools of acid that support bacteria that would dissolve other creatures, leaves that can sustain animals who eat nothing else but would kill us if we ate too many, etc.

In this case, it appears that the black goop provides the basis of the

Alien metamorphosis, as it oozes out from the Alien "eggs" and we see the proto-facehuggers attacking from it and using it as a home environment.

When humans are exposed to it

they become infected by an Alien in some form (worms in Holloway's eyes, indirect exposure resulted in an Alien fetus in Shaw).

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    The black goop apparently is organic. David makes this observation early on. How it manages to be organic, yet smaller than DNA (in the opening moments, when you zoom in) is odd. My understanding was that the worms were a product of the liquid. – Gorchestopher H Jun 18 '12 at 23:29
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    Hey, nice to see you again :) Is it not the same thing David offers to Holloway in a drink? – Alexander Jun 18 '12 at 23:31
  • Good point. I had forgotten that David's goop was from the "eggs". – dlanod Jun 19 '12 at 0:00

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